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South Korea’s major grant assistance agency partners with UNDP to improve firefighting system in Kyrgyzstan

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the key grant assistance agency of South Korea, announced that it will provide US$7 million and work with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to improve the firefighting system in Kyrgyzstan until 2022.

The project will include actions such as improving policies and institutions, providing training programs, and supporting the construction of fire stations and the modernization of equipment.

Kyrgyzstan has been newly appointed as South Korea’s priority partner country for 2021-2025, indicating more opportunities for potential partnership between the two governments.

Press release – Korea International Cooperation Agency (in Korean)

South Korean head of academic association on foreign assistance suggests platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue and re-defining national interest

Dr. Sung-kyu Kim, President of the Korea Association of International Development and Cooperation (KAIDEC), the largest academic association on official development cooperation (ODA), mentioned in an interview that South Korea should move away from following what traditional donors are doing and rather set the future direction of South Korea’s ODA based on its own circumstances.

Kim mentioned that there should be a platform through which multiple stakeholders—including experts, civil society organizations, and the public—could communicate freely and equally on ODA, enabling varied participation in the ODA policy decision-making process.

Kim pointed out that different stakeholders have varied interpretations of what is best for the national interest. Kim stressed that the definition and scope of what is considered national interest should be expanded beyond the commercial interest of donors, and that in particular, academia should discuss how socio-cultural solidarity and inclusiveness of ODA correspond with national interest.

News article – Yonhap News (in Korean)

South Korea’s foreign ministry organizes strategic meeting on grant assistance for systematic and effective implementation of foreign development assistance

South Korea’s Foreign Minister Eui-yong Chung chaired the launch of the first 'Free Development Cooperation Strategy Meeting' that brought together representatives of multiple ministries and government agencies implementing grant assistance, including the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Gender Equality.

These strategic meetings on grant assistance will work as the highest-level meeting that deliberates and decides on South Korea’s overall grant assistance, as well as discuss related major strategies and policies, in order to strengthen the system and effectiveness of grant assistance implementation.

Experts have pointed out that fragmentation in the official development assistance (ODA) system is one of South Korea's major challenges. Chung stated that with the increase of South Korea’s ODA budget, the quality of foreign assistance should also improve. He also stressed that ODA should be implemented in line with the government’s diplomatic strategies.

News article – Newsis (in Korean)

South Korea commits US$18 million in humanitarian assistance to Syria

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of South Korea announced that it will provide US$18 million in humanitarian assistance to help the refugees and particularly vulnerable groups such as women and children.

MOFA announced this at the fifth Brussels Conference on 'Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region' held on March 30, 2021. South Korea, along with other participants, called for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

World leaders join European Council President and WHO Director-General in calling for international pandemic treaty

World leaders joined European Council President Charles Michel and World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in signing an op-ed calling for a new international pandemic treaty to ensure improved global pandemic preparedness and response for future potential health crises. 

The op-ed acknowledged that no country or multilateral agency could address the COVID-19 pandemic—or future pandemics—alone and that the current crisis serves as a reminder that no one is safe until everyone is safe. The treaty would encourage an “all-of-government and all-of-society approach” at all levels to enhance cooperation on a variety of preparedness and response measures. It would fortify mutual accountability and use a 'One Health' approach that looks at human health not as an isolated entity, but rather as intertwined with the health of animals and our planet. 

The heads of states highlighted the role that the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) has played in fighting the pandemic, as well as the lessons it has provided, including the need for stronger partnerships for equitable access to treatment and vaccines globally.

Leaders from the following countries signed the treaty: Fiji, Thailand, Portugal, Italy, Romania, the UK, Rwanda, Kenya, France, Germany, Greece, South Korea, Chile, Costa Rica, Albania, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, the Netherlands, Tunisia, Senegal, Spain, Norway, Serbia, Indonesia, and Ukraine.

Press release - Council of the EU

Press release - WHO

News article - Euractiv

President of Korea International Cooperation Agency stresses "co-prosperous interest" in grant assistance and alignment with diplomatic goals

President Hyuk-sang Sohn of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) emphasized the need to pursue mutual interests in official development assistance (ODA), including grant assistance.

Sohn stated that ODA, which is based on taxpayers’ money, can be considered a diplomatic tool of a donor country and therefore should be different from charity. Using the US’ 3D strategy (which stands for diplomacy, defense, and development) as an example, he argued that the ODA strategy should be compatible with foreign affairs strategy.

Taking the case of South Korea’s third mid-term ODA strategy for 2021-2025, he explained that the "co-prosperous interest" mentioned in the strategy refers to supporting "universal national interests" when addressing global issues, which according to Sohn, should be the guide for South Korea’s ODA.

Sohn was appointed as the KOICA president in December 2020 and has been involved in the ODA field as a scholar.

Op-ed – Joongang Daily (in Korean)

South Korea’s grant assistance agency invests US$7 million to combat gender-based violence in Laos

South Korea’s major grant assistance agency, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), announced that it will invest US$7 million by 2024 to address gender-based violence in Laos.

This effort is the first project that KOICA has dedicated to women’s empowerment and gender equality in Laos. In partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), KOICA will:

  1. Establish a center to prevent and respond to violence;
  2. Develop a medium- to long-term strategy for responding to gender-based violence in Laos; and
  3. Establish an official gender sub-sector working group for effective implementation and monitoring of the project.

News article – KBS World

Press release – KOICA (in Korean)

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry commits to greater climate leadership in 2021

South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced that Yun Hyunsoo—its Deputy Director-General for Climate Change, Energy, Environment, and Scientific Affairs—was elected as the Chair of the Climate Change Expert Group (CCXG) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for the next three years.

The main tasks of the CCXG include having dialogues with low-income countries, facilitating mutual understanding, and increasing the impact of climate action.

Foreign Minister Eui-yong Chung also announced that South Korea will host the 2021 Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G) Summit on May 30-31, 2021 online. South Korea will also cooperate with the US on the virtual Leaders' Climate Summit hosted by the US on April 22, 2021.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

South Korea’s politicians discuss ways to enhance global health leadership

National Assembly members Hyun Young Shin and Gun Young Yoon of South Korea’s ruling party held a seminar with the representatives of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), and SK Bioscience (a South Korean vaccine producer) to discuss the development of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics by the South Korean private sector as well as the expansion of the country's health official development assistance (ODA).

There was a strong call for cooperation among the South Korean government, the National Assembly, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for a stable supply of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. MOFA's Director-General Young Moo Cho also remarked on the Ministry’s commitment to increasing contributions to the global health initiatives in partnership with the government.

News article – Sedaily (in Korean)

As human rights violations pile up, South Korea considers suspending ODA to Myanmar

As a response to growing human rights violations in Myanmar, the South Korean government announced its restriction of military-related partnerships with Myanmar and is reported to be considering the option of halting official development assistance (ODA) to the country. It will also closely monitor industrial exports.

The South Korean government will also reconsider funding new ODA projects but will continue to provide humanitarian assistance which directly affects the Myanmar public.

Myanmar has been a key partner of the South Korean government, particularly with the New Southern Policy, which is its major diplomatic strategy targeting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries (which includes Myanmar) and India.

News article – Yonhap News

Donor Tracker webinar will focus on donor governments' funding for sexual and reproductive health and rights; accompanying publication available now

On March 11, 2021, at 4:00 PM CET, the Donor Tracker will host its third gender equality webinar with a focus on development finance for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

The webinar accompanies the recent publication of a Donor Tracker Insight which analyzes the current funding landscape for the SRHR sector across three subsectors (STD control, including HIV/AIDS; reproductive health; and family planning), highlights trends in the last ten years of spending in the sector, profiles donor countries and multilaterals, and provides recommendations to donors for increasing engagement and impact in the sector.

The Donor Tracker will be joined in the March 11 webinar by Adam Wexler of the Kaiser Family Foundation, an expert on US funding flows to HIV/AIDS projects and global development funding for family planning.

The publication of the final Insight piece completes the Donor Tracker's Pillars of Gender Equality bundle, which also includes the previous two publications on funding for women's economic empowerment and financial inclusion and efforts to end gender-based violence.

Webinar registration - Zoom

Generation Equality? Trends from a Decade of Funding for SRHR - Donor Tracker

Donor Tracker webinar to host webinar on donor finance for sexual and reproductive health and rights

On March 11, 2021, at 4:00 PM CET, the Donor Tracker will host its third gender equality webinar with a focus on development finance for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

The webinar accompanies the recent publication of a Donor Tracker Insight which analyzes the current funding landscape for the SRHR sector across three subsectors (STD control, including HIV/AIDS; reproductive health; and family planning), highlights trends in the last ten years of spending in the sector, profiles donor countries and multilaterals, and provides recommendations to donors for increasing engagement and impact in the sector.

The Donor Tracker will be joined in the March 11 webinar by Adam Wexler of the Kaiser Family Foundation, an expert on US funding flows to HIV/AIDS projects and global development funding for family planning.

The publication of the final Insight piece completes the Donor Tracker's Pillars of Gender Equality bundle, which also includes the previous two publications on funding for women's economic empowerment and financial inclusion and efforts to end gender-based violence.

Webinar registration - Zoom

Generation Equality? Trends from a Decade of Funding for SRHR - Donor Tracker

South Korean research institute warns that South Korea should prepare to reshape foreign assistance relationship with Myanmar

The Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP), a national policy research institute of South Korea, recommended in its report that the South Korean government prepare response strategies for different scenarios as unrest and violence in Myanmar continues following the military coup in February 2021.

Some countries, including the United States, have imposed sanctions against Myanmar. KIEP stated that if the international community’s sanctions against Myanmar expand further, South Korea may also experience negative effects.

KIEP also added that South Korea may be requested to stop providing official development assistance, though excluding humanitarian assistance, as well as impose financial sanctions. This may result in limited grant assistance and concessional loans to Myanmar from South Korea.

KIEP suggested that South Korea prepare response strategies to the actions of other donors and even consider revisiting the detailed activities of the New Southern Policy, which is the government’s foreign strategy targeting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries (which includes Myanmar) and India.

KIEP concluded by emphasizing the need for constant monitoring of the situation and developing relevant strategies.

News article – Yonhap News

South Korea’s Presidential Committee emphasizes stronger implementation of New Southern Policy in 2021

Bokyoung Park, the head of the South Korean Presidential Committee on New Southern Policy, held the first meeting of 2021 and emphasized a stronger implementation of the New Southern Policy in 2021, which was slowed down in 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Park was joined by the representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Economy and Finance, Education, Health and Welfare (MOHW), and other relevant ministries. The New Southern Policy is South Korean President Jae-in Moon’s major diplomatic strategy that aims to strengthen partnerships with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries and India.

In particular, MOFA stated that it will open the Korea-ASEAN Financial Cooperation Centre, provide different foreign assistance projects that build health capacity in the region, and help the region address sea contamination. MOHW added that it will help partner countries build their infectious disease response capacity and support the implementation of medical systems based on information and communication technology.

News article – Electronic News (in Korean)

South Korea commits US$19 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen

At the virtual high-level pledging event for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, held on March 1, 2021, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of South Korea announced that it will contribute US$19 million in humanitarian assistance to the country. MOFA will also provide rice via the World Food Programme (WFP) to assist Yemen in overcoming its ongoing food crisis.

 

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean)

Director of Global Green Growth Initiative gives recommendations for improvements to South Korea’s "green ODA"

Director-General Frank Rijsberman of the Global Green Growth Initiative (GGGI) gave recommendations in an op-ed on how South Korea could improve the impact of its official development assistance (ODA) on the environment and climate-related sectors, know as its "green ODA".

Though recognizing the South Korean government’s commitment to increase green ODA, part of the government’s Green New Deal, Rijsberman pointed out that South Korea’s bilateral green ODA was only around 10% in 2018, far below the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members’ average of 33%. South Korea’s climate finance was only 7%, well short of the DAC average of 26%. Rijsberman highlighted that even with a significant increase, South Korea’s green ODA will remain below the DAC average.

Rijsberman provided three recommendations for South Korea:

  • First, increase green ODA target to 50% by 2050;
  • Second, ensure that green ODA is spent on programs that protect the environment and climate rather than supporting non-resilient projects such as fossil fuel projects; and
  • Third, apply appropriate standards such as the Environmental Impact Assessments to ODA projects.

Op-ed – Korea JoongAng Daily

At UN Human Rights Council, South Korean officials speak on human rights of vulnerable groups during COVID-19 crisis

Speaking at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)’s high-level meeting, Vice Minister Jongmoon Choi of South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) emphasized the importance of prioritizing human rights during the COVID-19 crisis, especially those of women and North Koreans.

Choi also highlighted the importance of equitable access to vaccines based on multilateral organizations such as the Northeast Asia Cooperation Initiative for Infectious Disease Control and Public Health, launched by South Korea in partnership with the US, China, Russia, and Mongolia in 2020. President Jae-in Moon encouraged North Korea to become a member of the initiative in his recent remarks, emphasizing like Choi the need to address the humanitarian situation in North Korea.

Choi also spoke on gender equality, decrying gender-based violence in conflict-affected situations. In 2018, in support of survivors of sexual violence in conflict, MOFA launched the “Action with Women and Peace” initiative and has held annual international conferences since.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

South Korea's grant assistance agency commits US$7 million to prevent gender-based violence in Timor-Leste

South Korea's Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) announced that it will implement a project dedicated to preventing gender-based violence in Timor-Leste worth US$8 million in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Women, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), with KOICA providing US$7.3 million and the UN agencies contributing US$0.7 million.

The project will run until 2024 with the objectives of enhancing access to basic legal and medical services and building women's policy and economic capacity. The project will target both the government and civil society.

News article – Newsis (in Korean)

South Korea's Ministry of Environment contributes US$5 million as official development assistance in 2021

South Korea's Ministry of Environment (MOE) announced that it will provide KRW5.4 billion (US$5 million) in official development assistance (ODA) for international development cooperation projects on water.

The projects will specifically focus on Indonesia, Cambodia, and Uzbekistan as part of the ministry’s efforts to implement the government’s main foreign policies of the New Southern and the New Northern Policies that target South, Southeast, and Northeast Asian countries.

All the projects in the three countries will aim to improve water management and infrastructure.

News article – Newsis (in Korean)

Assistance from South Korea’s major grant agency to closely align with government’s foreign policy priorities

President Hyuk-Sang Sohn of the Korea International Cooperation Agency, the major grant assistance agency of South Korea, stated in an interview that the agency will primarily focus on the New Southern Policy and the New Northern Policy, as well as the Green New Deal, which are major strategies of South Korea.

The New Southern and Northern Policies are the major foreign policies of the South Korean government. The New Southern Policy focuses on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states as well as India, and the New Northern Policy focuses on Eurasian countries such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

The Green New Deal is a sustainable transition strategy that aims to promote more environmentally- and socially-aware development based on a low-carbon economy.

Sohn also stressed that Korea will take more of a leading role in international development cooperation than it has in the past, based on its agenda and strategy.

News article – Yonhap News (in Korean)